The Alberta government is auditing the Arches-run Supervised Consumption Site in Lethbridge after receiving an “anonymous tip” of financial irregularities at the site.
The government said Wednesday that a team of auditors, authorized by Alberta Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan, were at the SCS.
Kassandra Kitz, press secretary for Minister Luan said the team is looking into the allegations.
On Thursday, Kitz released a statement to Global News.
“We expect all service providers to perform their duties to the highest possible standard to protect the safety of all Albertans.”
“The government recently learned of possible financial irregularities at the Lethbridge Supervised Consumption Services Site. We take any allegations made against a publicly funded health facility or service provider extremely seriously.
“As we provide public funds to this site, we have launched a financial audit to assess whether the allegations have merit, and if any improprieties have occurred.
“This audit will be completed as soon as possible, we cannot speculate or comment further while the audit is underway.”
The government has not indicated what this audit may mean for ongoing operations at the SCS.
The Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) Review Committee presented its final report on Thursday.
The report suggests the social impacts of supervised drug consumption sites in Alberta include increased needle debris and a growing risk to public safety in surrounding neighbourhoods.
Luan calls the report a “wake-up call” and says the government will use it to make decisions about the sites on a city-by-city basis.
ARCHES Executive Director Stacey Bourque says they are fully cooperating with the audit.
“It’s a standard clause in every Alberta Health agreement that they have the ability and the opportunity to come in and do that.
“So we’re cooperating at the time and we’ve provided everything that they need. We’ll continue to work with them,” she said.
Bourque adds that the timing of the audit – which coincides with the tabling of the SCS review – is not ideal for them.
“It’s extremely stressful for everyone involved… We believe we’re doing our due diligence and we’re doing the best we can. Nobody could have anticipated the volume of usage,” Bourque said.
— With files from Canadian Press